Einstein’s Legacy — Where are the “Einsteinians?”

Lee Smolin in Logos Journal:

For more than two centuries after Newton published his theories of space, time, and motion in 1687, most physicists were Newtonians. They believed, as Newton did, that space and time are absolute, that force causes acceleration, and that gravity is a force conveyed across a vacuum at a distance. Since Darwin there are few professional biologists who are not Darwinians, and if most psychologists no longer often call themselves Freudians, few doubt that there is an unconscious or that sexuality plays a big role in it. So as we celebrate the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s great discoveries, the question arises: How many professional physicists are Einsteinians?

Einsteinsmolin400x200The superficial answer is that we all are. No professional physicist today doubts that quantum theory and relativity theory have stood up to experimental tests. But the term “Einsteinian” does not exist. I’ve never heard or read it. Nor have I ever encountered any evidence for a “school of Einstein.” There is a community of people scattered around the world who call themselves relativists, whose main scientific work centers on general relativity. But relativists make up only a tiny minority of theoretical physicists, and there is no country where they dominate the intellectual atmosphere of the field.

Strange as it may seem, Albert Einstein, the discoverer of both quantum and relativity theory, and hence clearly the preeminent physicist of the modern era, failed to leave behind a following with any appreciable influence. Why most physicists followed other leaders in directions Einstein opposed is a story that must be told if this centennial year is to be other than an empty celebration of a myth, unconnected to the reality of who Einstein was and what he believed in.

More here.